EDGEWATER — While the neighborhood has seen a crop of new businesses and other economic development in recent years, street violence threatens the health of Edgewater, Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said.
"We cannot have great businesses if people are afraid to walk down the street," Osterman said Tuesday to a group of business owners and leaders and politicians at the 2015 State of Edgewater event.
Osterman said he met with the mayor Monday to talk about violence along the city's lakefront.
"The reality is that violence in Uptown affects Edgewater and Rogers Park," he said. "Shootings on Howard Street leave shell casings on Kenmore."
Ben Woodard discusses how recent shootings are affecting the area:
On Friday, Rogers Park rapper Shaquon Thomas, aka Young Pappy, was gunned down on Kenmore Avenue near Lawrence Avenue. He had been the target of at least two other shootings that left bystanders dead in the past couple of years, police said.
On Monday afternoon, two people were injured in shootings in Rogers Park just three hours apart.
Osterman and other elected officials — including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, State Sen. Heather Steans and State Reps. Greg Harris and Kelly Cassidy — spoke about accomplishments and challenges facing Edgewater, the city and the state.
Cassidy, of Rogers Park, said the absence of funding for anti-violence efforts, such as CeaseFire in Rogers Park and Uptown, have contributed to the recent violence.
She said she would fight to keep that funding in the state's budget.
"As it gets hotter, as school gets out, it's going to get worse," she said.
"Our neighborhood has been recognized in the last year by people around the city for the greatness that it is," Osterman said. "It's a time that we are thriving; it's a time of growth and progress."
The CTA's proposal to completely rebuild the Red Line track and stations between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr avenues also promises to being more growth to Edgewater, Osterman said.
"That's going to be huge project we're going to work through together," he said.
Preckwinkle emphasized the need for mental health services, like Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, "especially in a community like Edgewater."
She said she was "very alarmed" when the organization announced in April it would shutter its facilities by the end of May.
"When community-based services close, the county bears the brunt," she said.
As Harris vowed to fight for a fair budget in Springfield, Steans blasted Governor Rauner's decision to cut many social service programs, calling the move "draconian" and "unfathomable".
Still, she said, she couldn't help but revel in the "incredibly fabulous and vibrant" scene in Edgewater, jesting that it was "much better to be here than in Springfield."
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